Praia da Comenda

I spent Saturday afternoon on a small beach called Praia da Comenda, at the foothills of the Serra da Arrábida, close to the city of Setúbal.

This area is popular with families, since there is a large picnic area, through which the smell of charcoal and grilled fish pervades as the sun starts setting and the evening meals are started.

The beach is formed by the banks of the inlet of a small river, the Ajuda, which flows into the larger Sado river, on the other side of which the more popular beaches of Troía can be seen, together with the ferries which take day-trippers from the Troía peninsula back to the port of Setúbal. The nearby Palacio da Comenda provides some architectural interest.

Palacio da Comenda

It was a nice, relaxing afternoon, allowing us to cool off in the water and escape the much higher temperatures in the city and inland. Afterwards we headed into Setúbal, to one of the hundreds of excellent fish restaurants lining the waterfront. We shared a dourada de mar (sea bream), accompanied by some refreshing white Sado wine, then headed back north to the heat!


I spent this Saturday on the beach in Sesimbra. It’s a town I go to quite frequently in the summer because my girlfriend and I really like the place. Two years ago, I wrote here about a longer stay over Easter.

We left at around 1pm and drove south across the Setúbal peninsula. Sesimbra lies on the south coast of this peninsula, to the west of the Serra de Arrábida. It’s a 30 – 45 minute drive from Lisbon, and once again gave me an insight into the driving habits of the Portuguese, or one habit in particular.

You’ve pulled into the outside lane to overtake a slower moving car on the inside. Suddenly, there’s another car right on your tail, as close as possible to your rear bumper and impatiently indicating they want to overtake you, even before you’ve managed to get past the other car. I’m quite an experienced driver and this doesn’t make me nervous, but I’m amazed at how impatient these drivers are. After seeing them on the Vasco da Gama bridge, driving bumper to bumber at 140km/h, it comes as no surprise to learn that in Portugal 4 times as many people are killed in their cars as in the UK, for example.

But prudent and patient driving may also be seen on Portugal’s roads, and after an uneventful drive, we arrived in Sesimbra. We always head straight for the beach area and then turn to the right, driving along the sea front past the different restaurants towards the Hotel do Mar. In front of the hotel there are 2 or 3 small carparks, where it is almost always possible to park. You sometimes have to wait a few minutes until another car leaves, but on this particular occasion we parked immediately.

We headed off to the beach, planted our sunshade on the clean, white sands and tested the waters. Sesimbra is great for kids: the natural bay has a wide beach, the sea is calm and the water stays shallow close to the shore. I was expecting the water to be much colder, but on this early June weekend it was warm enough to swim for a good while without getting too cold. We had brought sandwiches this time, so we didn’t visit any of the varied sea-front restaurants, but there’s plenty to choose from here for those staying for lunch or dinner. The Lisboetans flock to this town at weekends but even so, it doesn’t get over crowded. A good day was had by all!